Can You Sue Your Employer for Violence at Work in Massachusetts?

On-the-job accidents and injuries are often covered by Workers’ Compensation, which normally bars lawsuits against employers. However, violence in the workplace might not be covered, and you can sue your employer in some cases.

Workplace violence is not only something you should not have to put up with, but it might also lead to criminal charges. Depending on how the violence occurred, Workers’ Compensation might cover it, or you can sue your employer. Generally, employers cannot hide behind Workers’ Compensation after deliberately injuring an employee. On top of that, an employer might be liable for violence from an employee against another employee. Common examples of violence in the workplace include fights between coworkers, violence from angry customers or clients, and even violence from an employer.

If someone intentionally hurt you in an act of violence at work, call our Massachusetts personal injury lawyers at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407 and make an appointment for a free assessment of your claims.

Getting Compensation for Workplace Violence in Massachusetts

After being hurt at work, an employee typically must report the accident to their employer, who can then report the incident to their Workers’ Compensation insurance provider. However, what happens when the accident involves intentional violence? What if that violence came from the employees themselves? Depending on the situation, you might be able to file an injury lawsuit against your employer.

Workers’ Compensation

The first legal hurdle you should discuss with your attorney is Workers’ Compensation. While this is not a hurdle for some, it can be if your goal is to sue your employer for damages. Workers’ Compensation allows injured employees to recover financial benefits after a work-related injury, but the system tends to prohibit lawsuits against employers.

While acts of violence are generally not considered accidents, you should still check with an experienced lawyer. An employer might argue that the violence was an accident or a misunderstanding to avoid liability. Intentional acts of violence and harm are typically not compensable injuries under Workers’ Compensation. You might need to prove that the violence was not an accident before you can sue your employer, and our Boston personal injury lawyers can help you.

When You Can Sue

As mentioned before, you cannot sue your employer if your injuries are compensable under the Workers’ Compensation system. While injuries from workplace violence might still be compensable under this system, it should be thoroughly investigated. Typically, employers can be sued for acts of intentional violence in the workplace, and you should talk to a lawyer right away.

Employers should be shielded from liability for injuries caused by their deliberate wrongful actions, such as violence or other intentional torts. If your employer was violent towards you and hurt you, you can likely sue them for your injuries. The trick is proving that the violence was intentional and not some accident. Witnesses and security camera footage can help you prove that the accident was no accident at all.

Even if the violence is otherwise covered by Workers’ Compensation, you may sue your employer if they do not carry the necessary Workers’ Compensation insurance. If you discover your employer does not have the right insurance to cover you, find a lawyer immediately.

Can I Sue My Employer for Violence From Another Employee in Massachusetts?

Violence in the workplace might not come from an employer. Sometimes, violence comes from other employees. Perhaps a disagreement with a coworker became heated, and they violently struck you, causing injuries. Even though your employer is not directly responsible for the violence, they can still be sued alongside the coworker who injured you.

If a coworker purposefully injured you in an act of violence, you can sue them in an injury lawsuit. While you can typically sue an employer for injuries caused by an employee’s negligence, intentional acts of violence do not typically involve negligence. In some cases, you might be unable to hold the employer liable for the violence of another employee. However, you can sue the employer under very specific circumstances.

If your employer hired your violent coworker knowing they had a history of violence and might lash out at others, you can sue them for negligent hiring. To prove negligent hiring, you must prove that your employer knew about your coworker’s violent history when they hired them. For example, suppose your employer discovered through a routine background check that your coworker has been convicted of violent crimes several times before and was fired from previous jobs for violence. In that case, they might be on the hook for negligently hiring someone prone to violence.

Examples of Workplace Violence You Can Sue for in Massachusetts

Workplace violence might take many forms, and you should discuss what happened with your attorney as soon as possible. As briefly mentioned earlier, many acts of violence at work stem from disagreements that get out of control. However, there might be various other ways violence can cause injury in the workplace.

Some people are injured by violent customers or clients. For example, an irate customer might become violent over a dispute regarding a particular product or service. You might instead be injured by a robber or trespasser. Depending on how the violence occurred, your employer, among others, might be liable, even if it appears at first glance that they were not involved.

When an employer is not directly involved in the act of violence at all, they might still be liable for negligently failing to prevent it. For example, using the robbery example from before, your employer might be liable if they failed to take reasonable security measures and they knew a robbery was likely considering the history of crime and robberies in the area.

Call Our Massachusetts Workplace Injury Lawyers to Discuss Suing Your Employer for Violence

Call our Worcester, MA personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407 and make an appointment for a free assessment of your claims.